Seniors’ housing demand high in Smoky region

An additional 10 living units to Villa Beausejour in Falher are proposed by Heart River Housing as part of its strategic priorities for 2020-21.

Richard Froese
South Peace News

A plan to address the growing need of seniors’ housing in the Falher and McLennan region is a priority for Heart River Housing.

An additional 10 units are proposed for Villa Beausejour in Falher as part of the 2020-21 strategic plan.

Proposed plans are outlined in a letter and business plan dated June 25 to municipal councils after Heart River reviewed a needs assessment in the Smoky River region completed in 2020.

“The assessment shows a need for more seniors’ housing in the Smoky River region, specifically for one-bedroom and two-bedroom units,” CAO Lindsay Pratt writes in the report.

“Statistics show a major increase in seniors over the next 25 years within the region and across the country.”

Strategic priorities for 2020-21 were approved by the Heart River board at a strategic planning session June 20.

“The priorities are laid out in no particular order,” Pratt says.

“Some of the projects depend on funding out of our control and we will wait until that funding is available.”

The final business plan will be presented to 11 member municipalities shortly, the letter states.

An addition for Villa Beausejour is based on the regional housing needs assessment and business case.

Heart River proposes to add 10 units to the existing 69 units, the report states.

Plans suggest the addition would include six two-bedroom units and four one-bedroom units.

Construction of the estimated $3.64 million project is proposed to start in April 2022.

Design work would begin March 2021.

Heart River proposes funding to come from Heart River lodge capital reserves, loans and possibly from the provincial government.

More units are also planned for McLennan.

One option Heart River plans to explore is to add independent seniors’ units in the vacant wing of the Sacred Heart Community Health Centre.

The other option is to remodel one-bedroom seniors’ units into two-bedroom units at the Legion Manor West.

However, either option would only proceed with government funding.

Heart River will explore remodeling some seniors’ self-contained units from one-bedroom to two-bedroom units in Girouxville and Donnelly based on the assessment.

Government funding will be used for the work, since the government owns the buildings, the report says.

Heart River Housing was established as a management body under the Alberta Housing Act in 1995. Its main office is in High Prairie.

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